Could Tums Help Orchids Too?

A couple of years ago, I asked Andy Easton why some of our Catts had black tipped leaves. He said might be a calcium deficiency . Since then I have added 5 Tums tablets to every 20 gallons of fertilize solution. I start softening the Tums several hours ahead of adding the fertilizer, 15 aspirin, and detergent to the mix. Our black tips are gone, and while the calcium is at best in suspension, the particles seem to some how get into the roots. – Dot

Why Fungi Are Your Friends

Of course this is about mycorrhizal species, and their value to plants in general, and our orchids of course. They actually provide water and nutrients to most plants and keep pathogens at bay. Fungi have much better food-finding filaments (mycelia) than roots. In fact mycelia can absorb up to 50 times more than an equal mass of roots. Since most orchids are epiphytes, they live in harsh environments, and plants in harsh habitats are most dependent on fungi.

Now, Bio. 101 again: If we didn’t have fungi to decompose dead things, the earth would be an awful mess, some have been engineered to consume pesticide and oil contaminations, they enrich the soil. Also be glad for the antibiotics that have controlled our bacterial diseases. Fungi are friends! Woodsen (2002) also mentioned that fungi can restore watersheds, clean up PCB’s and even break down nerve gas and chemical- warfare agents. (Now that you know so much about fungi, maybe you & I won’t hate your nail fungi so much?) Besides Bio. 101, information came from Woodsen, Mary, December 2002, Audubon Magazine. Pages 30-31.

Excerpts from Hamilton, R. (editor and publisher). © 1988. The New Orchid Doctor. Canada.

Lack of calcium

If many of your Cattleya leaves have black ends you may being seeing a lack of calcium. Plaster of Paris is not too alkaline to try. Make a paste, let it dry in a flat box or pan. Flake the dried material and scatter it on top of the medium. You will get a slow release of calcium, and if you just put the powered plaster on top of the pot it would wash right though and be gone. Pages 39-40

Calcium is one of the minerals included in the Michigan State fertilizer. If you use the latter you don’t need plaster 🙂

More important female parent

When you look at the two names in a cross, know that the female parent is listed first, since she supplies more DNA than the male parent Page 41. The extra DNA is found in the eggs cytoplasm.

Make a hole in a plastic pot label

Touch the label with a hot ice pick. Page 97.;A nail and hammer work too.

Neosporin for crown rot

Remove the rotted area of the plant and apply Neosporin. Page 60.


If your orchid pots are closer together than the diameter of one of the pots you are depriving the plant of light and air and can be accused of ‘cultural suicide’. Page 64. The person who wrote that had huge amounts of money and space, or was not addicted to orchids, but he is probably right.

Lack of oxygen, main cause of root death

If roots can’t touch air due to decomposed medium, or water logged medium, they can’t get oxygen for necessary respiration so they die. Page 64.

Remove Phalaenopsis flowers by summer

If the plant carries the flowers too long, the plant may become dehydrated and may never really recover. Especially in South Florida where it is so warm, it is well to remove the flowers before hot weather. Page 72. The flowers will still be pretty in a vase. Some Phals that we used in the FLOS show had their flowers removed in mid February and those flowers still look fine in a vase.

Staghorn ferns and orchids

If you are growing orchids on trees, attach some Staghorn ferns to that same tree. The ferns will promote better growth in the orchids- especially Catts and Vandas. Page 102. The Staghorn in our orchid growing tree has a nest of owls in it. Fertilizer from animals may be the key?